Huntsman: GOP Debates Must Focus on Economy

Tuesday, 11 Oct 2011 04:49 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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Jon Huntsman says Republican presidential debates should shy away from secondary issues and concentrate on problems that are really costing Americans: a lack of jobs and the faltering economy. The presidential hopeful also said Monday on Fox News it is unfortunate that questions of a candidate’s religion have entered the discussion, when the nation is mired in an extreme financial crisis.
“Eric, we have no choice — [the economy] is exactly where the debate needs to go,” the former Utah governor told Fox News’ Eric Bolling, specifically referring to tonight’s GOP debate in New Hampshire. “So, you sit here in New Hampshire, and have a conversation with Sheriff Hardy — my good friend from Hillsborough County — and when he begins to tell you things like his deputies are beginning to hand out foreclosure notices to the middle class — they have never done that before, they have never seen that before — because of a dire jobs situation.

“Families that are facing unprecedented problems, substance abuse, spousal abuse — suicide rates are climbing — because people lack the dignity of a job and the ability to take care of themselves,” Huntsman said. “If the debate started . . . with a question or a discussion on something that wasn’t focused on vaccines, not focused on he said/she said about what was said in a book with respect to Social Security, if you could get the drama and the short-term thinking out of — at least the desire to get sound bites — out of these debates during the first 30 minutes, maybe that would stimulate some good discussion, and some good thinking.”

Huntsman and Bolling both noted the Wall Street Journal has endorsed the candidate’s economic-reform package, which focuses on job creation, tax and regulatory reform, and energy independence.

“This is the bottom line for us. This whole election cycle is pretty simple: It’s about how you fire the engines of growth in this economy,” Huntsman said. “You expand the economy, you create jobs — and you get more taxpayers — so we can begin paying the bills going forward.”

Bolling then referred to weekend comments made by Texas pastor — and Gov. Rick Perry supporter — Robert Jeffress that Mormonism is a cult, members of the faith are not really Christians. Both Huntsman and presidential rival Mitt Romney are Mormons.

“I think it is really unfortunate when people have to stand up — and, you know, Thomas Jefferson talked over 200 years ago about having no litmus test, religious litmus test in politics,” Huntsman said. “And here we are, over two centuries later, having silly discussions like this. And if it comes up in the debate — as you mentioned, Eric, you know, nobody should have time or the willingness to take this in any direction — we ought to get right to the bottom-line focus of job creation and how we fire the engines of growth in this economy, or do what I did today, which was a speech on foreign policy.

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